Re: Philmont equipment
Don Miles (donmiles@ENTER.NET)
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 09:51:50 -0500
>For those of you who have been there, do you have any
>suggestions on pack requirements or even specific packs / brand ?<
Our '97 Philmont crew emphasized proper gear and shook it down on six
practice backpacking weekends. Since few of us had backpacking gear
sturdy enough for the Philmont terrain, we organized a crew caravan to
Campmor's giant camping store inn Paramus, NJ, about 2 hours away from
us here in E. PA. None of us has any interest in promoting anyone's
store, but I have to say that the backpacking-experienced staff at
Campmor, many of whom have been to Philmont, were fantastic to us. They
pointed out the pros and cons of each pack and other piece of gear (not
being afraid to point out sore points of gear they were trying to sell)
and took lots of time to fit and adjust the packs with our boys. There
really is no substitute for this kind of knowledgeable service if you're
going to get the right stuff for a trek like Philmont's.
Our guys got either good-quality external packs (they chose $150 4500
cc Keltys) or more-expensive (but also more comfortable on rocky
terrain) internals (they chose $250 5300 cc Gregory Shastas). If
you're doing Philmont and you don't want to spend over $200, don't try
and save money by getting a flimsier internal frame pack (like those
made by CampTrails, Eureka, or Peak): their suspension systems (internal
frames, belt and straps) won't carry the load comfortably. If you're
staying under $200, get a good external frame pack.
The other two key Philmont gear items are good boots and a sturdy rain
jacket or rainsuit. Boots should be light, all-leather, have as few
seams as possible, and have a good-traction Vibram lugged sole (our guys
got Vasque Sundowners, Asolo 535s, or Salomons, all for around
$125-175). Don't get cheap boots-- Philmont will kill your feet in a
few days with flimsy boots: you'll be carrying 40 lb. loads on them !
And good raingear is another essential: flimsy plastic ponchos or cheap
vinyvl raincoats will make you miserable: in July and August in
Philmont's mountains it rains part (or all) of every day. Hard.
You don't necessarily have to get expensive Gore-Tex raincoats (although
they do the job) but you do need a sturdy raincoat with sealed seams,
preferably with armpit-zippers for summer ventilation, and heavy
waterproof coating. (Our guys got $200 Lowe Alpine "TriplePoint
Ceramic"s -- a good Gore-Tex substitute, $130 Red Ledge's, or $80
Campmor "CampTech" rainjackets.) Rain pants are good in a Philmont
downpour but hot in New Mexico's July: if your jacket is long enough to
cover your butt, you can usually just let your shorts (if they're nylon
-- as they should be, not cotton ) and legs get wet and they'll dry
quickly when the sun comes out (but you should consider lowcut gaiters,
those cuff-like gizmos that go around your ankles to keep rain and dirt
out of your boot tops).
If you have a backpack-gear store in your area with this kind of
knowledgeable staff, it should be the place you get your Philmont gear.
If their stuff costs 20% more than at the discount store, pay the money
and get that advice you need. And if you're within a reasonable drive
of Paramus, NJ, you really have to check out Campmor, who we found to
have not only great staff but also the largest selection and lowest
prices of any store we looked at (and we checked many). (Campmor has a
website at http://www.campmor.com and you can get their mail-order
catalog if you want to check out gear features and prices by calling
800-226-7667 -- but go to the store if you can, since they have
unadvertized specials that are even better than the prices in the
And don't forget: at least 4 or 5 practice monthly backpack weekends in
the mountains, with 35+ lb. loads apiece.
Don Miles, Boy Scout Troop 318, Bethlehem, PA
'97 Philmont Crew Advisor (Scoutmaster, 1993'-'97)
"I used to be a Fox . . . " WB NE-IV-79.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City